Lisa Robertson is a Canadian poet and intellectual, one of the most original and independent voices in contemporary thought. Her critical writings include two very recent collections, Nilling (2012), and Revolution: A Reader (2012), with Matthew Stadler; her collections of poetry have won many major prizes, and include The Weather, Rousseau’s Boat, The Men, and Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip. She has been writer in residence at The University of Cambridge, UC Berkeley, and Simon Fraser University, and she taught for a semester at the American University of Paris.
The talk will be entitled ‘Some Rooms, An Ellipse’ – this is how it may start:
There will be a series of rooms. Each room will have in it a table, a book, and an opening to the outside. At times these rooms may be called studies or observatories or libraries but they are only rooms. These rooms have shaped research.
The first is Tycho Brahe’s room at the observatory on the island of Hven, in 1576. The next is Johannes Kepler’s room, in 1604. Next is Descartes’ room in 1629. Then Carlyle’s fictive study for Herr Teufelsdrocke, in 1830, in Sartor Resartus, and then Aby Warburg’s elliptical reading room for the Kulturwissenschlaftliche Bibliothek Warburg in Hamburg in 1926. In each of these rooms, the components repeat—table, book, aperture— in different scales and combinations. In naming the table, the book, the aperture, I am thinking of them touching or not touching in different ways, I’m thinking of combinations of overlapping, how the table and the aperture and the book change positions and come to mean different things with varying values. So the room is a theatre for a physical comedy. And the room is also an instrument. There’s a room with an opening, a table, a book. There is a body in the room, a person working. It’s cold, though a fire is lit. The dog is curled up, sleeping. The observer must soon prepare her dinner. A simple omelette, then a return to her descriptions.